Marcus Rashford’s backhanded goal in the stoppage time saw Manchester United take second in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Wolves.
The game was heading for a dull scoreless draw as Wolves frustrated United for 93 minutes, before Rashford’s left-footed effort tore off Romain Saiss and left Rui Patricio defeated.
The best chance in the first half had fallen on Bruno Fernandes, but he couldn’t make Mason Greenwood’s wicked cross home at close range when Patricio saved, while David de Gea refused the punch from Saiss at the other end.
United believed they had broken the deadlock 20 minutes from time when Edinson Cavani returned home a free ball from a corner, but it was offside, and VAR’s examination of a handball potential Conor Coady in the same action returned in favor of Wolves.
United were largely held at bay by a young Wolves side, but Rashford grabbed the winner to put him two points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool after winning four of six just 21 days after the crisis talk at Old Trafford after their exit from the Champions League. . Wolves remain 12th, eight points behind the top four.
Male Utd: De Gea (6), Wan-Bissaka (5), Bailly (7), Maguire (6), Telles (5), Matic (6), Pogba (6), Fernandes (6), Greenwood (5), Rashford ( 7), Cavani (6)
Submarines: Shaw (6), Martial (6), McTominay (NA)
Wolves: Rui Patricio (6), Hoever (6), Kilman (6), Coady (7), Saiss (7), Ait Nouri (6), Neves (7), Moutinho (7), Traoré (6), Vitinha (6 )), Neto (6)
Submarines: Podence (6), Silva (5)
Man of the match: Romain Saiss
How United broke through after a frustrating 93 minutes
With Cavani starting for just the second time in the Premier League this season, United’s early tactics were clear: hit wide areas and capitalize on the Uruguayan’s movement into the box.
But Wolves spotted him early enough and limited United to central areas in a largely listless first half. United had the best chances as Greenwood’s brilliant right-wing performance found Fernandes, but they couldn’t make a proper connection with his close-range volley, which was well blocked by compatriot Rui Patricio.
Wolves looked to break consistently and had most of the effort in the first half – Saiss’s looping header hit the top of the bar, and the defender’s kick to the near post was a free kick. was also well beaten by De Gea – but the first half ended scoreless as the visitors frustrated an urgently lacking United side.
United brought in Luke Shaw at half-time to replace Alex Telles, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ninth half-time substitute this season, but the second half followed a similar trend.
The hosts had the ball in the net as Cavani made it home from close range as the ball gently fell to him from a corner, but it was offside, and VAR also refused to move on a handball call on Coady in the same passage of play.
United’s second shot on target came in the 75th minute as Pogba’s long-range effort stung Rui Patricio’s hands, before Rashford’s weak 10-yard effort was superbly blocked at the last by Saiss.
It was Wolves’ youngest starting XI in the Premier League since April 2012, and they played mature enough to earn a point, but Nuno’s side were heartbroken in downtime.
Rashford cut to his left foot just inside the box and saw his effort ricochet off man of the match Saiss and down the lower right corner for his eighth Premier League goal of the season, and all three points.
It wasn’t United’s prettiest show – far from it – and far from their last outing at Old Trafford against Leeds, but Solskjaer’s side have shown they can win while underperforming.
Edinson Cavani has started for Manchester United for the second time in the Premier League this season as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made six changes to the side which drew 2-2 at Leicester.
Anthony Martial fell on the bench alongside Daniel James, Fred and Scott McTominay, which meant Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Mason Greenwood started. In defense, Aaaron Wan-Bissaka was back for Victor Lindelof, who was out of the squad, while Alex Telles replaced Luke Shaw.
Wolves have made four changes from the 1-1 draw with Spurs 48 hours ago; Nelson Semedo, Marcal, Daniel Podence and Fabio Silva retired, replaced by Ki-Jana Hoever, Max Kilman, Rayan Ait-Nouri and Vitinha.
- Since their home loss to Arsenal in early November, Manchester United have won seven of their last nine Premier League games (D2).
- Wolves have now conceded in each of their last nine Premier League games; their longest joint run without a clean sheet in the competition under Nuno Espirito Santo (also nine games between December 2019 and January 2020.
- Marcus Rashford’s goal for Manchester United was his first at Old Trafford in the Premier League in 845 minutes, since the last net in July against Southampton.
- Manchester United’s late goal by Marcus Rashford (92:51) was their last game-winning goal in a Premier League game at Old Trafford since September 2009, when Michael Owen scored at 95:27 against Manchester City.
- Since making his Premier League debut in February, Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in more goals in the competition than any other player (32 – 18 goals, 14 assists).
Manchester United will now host Aston Villa on New Years at 8 p.m., live on Sky Sports Premier League, and are set to host Manchester City on January 6 in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at 7.45 p.m.
Wolves now travel to Brighton in the Premier League on January 2 at 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League, before hosting Crystal Palace in the FA Cup third round at 7.45 p.m. on Friday January 8.